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What's the Difference between Biltong and Jerky

When it comes to dried meat snacks, two popular options that often come to mind are biltong and jerky. While they may seem similar at first glance, there are actually some key differences between the two. In this blog post, we'll explore what sets biltong and jerky apart, from their origins to their preparation methods and flavours.

What is Biltong?

Biltong is a traditional South African dried meat snack that has been enjoyed for centuries. It is typically made from beef, although other meats like game, ostrich, or even fish can be used. The meat is marinated in a mixture of vinegar, salt, and spices, such as coriander and black pepper, before being air-dried. Unlike jerky, biltong is not cooked or smoked.

What is Jerky?

Jerky, on the other hand, is a dried meat snack that originated in North and South America. It is typically made from lean cuts of beef, but can also be made from other meats like turkey, chicken, or even exotic meats like buffalo or elk. The meat is thinly sliced and then seasoned with a marinade or dry rub containing ingredients like soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and various spices. Jerky is then dried using methods such as smoking, air-drying, or dehydrating.

Texture and Flavour

One of the main differences between biltong and jerky is their texture. Biltong is typically thicker and chewier, while jerky is thinner and drier. Biltong has a more tender and moist texture, whereas jerky is often tougher and more leathery.

In terms of flavour, biltong tends to have a milder taste compared to jerky. The spices used in biltong are usually more subtle, allowing the natural flavours of the meat to shine through. Jerky, on the other hand, is often more heavily seasoned, resulting in a bolder and more intense flavour.

Preparation Methods

The preparation methods for biltong and jerky also differ. Biltong is typically air-dried in a cool, dry place for several days or even weeks, depending on the desired level of dryness. The meat is hung up to allow air circulation, which helps to remove moisture and preserve the meat.

Jerky, on the other hand, can be prepared using various methods. Traditional methods involve smoking the meat over low heat for several hours, while modern methods often involve using a food dehydrator or oven to dry the meat at a low temperature. The goal is to remove as much moisture as possible to prevent spoilage.

Which One Should You Choose?

Ultimately, the choice between biltong and jerky comes down to personal preference. If you prefer a chewier texture and milder flavour, biltong may be the way to go. On the other hand, if you enjoy a drier, more intense flavour, jerky might be more your style.

Both biltong and jerky are delicious and convenient snacks that are high in protein and low in fat. Whichever one you choose, you can't go wrong with these tasty treats!

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